Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Airship Ambassador: How long did it take to gather the authors, their stories, and make the final selections? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?
Dominik Parisien: I opened to submissions December 1st 2014 and closed on April 30th 2015. I had solicited material a few weeks before opening to submissions, and both solicited and unsolicited stories came in throughout the submission period. Most authors received answers within a few weeks of submitting, but acceptances came after I’d read all the submissions, most of them around May and June. Editing came next, then story arrangement, and the final manuscript went out to the publisher early September. Afterwards it was marketing, contacting reviewers, working on the cover, etc. The book will be published May 1st, 2016.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what suggestions do you have as an editor, regarding their submissions, your feedback, and general collaboration?
DP: The obvious one – which cannot be stated enough – is read the guidelines. I’ve worked on a number of projects now, and it’s always surprising how a lot of folks don’t follow guidelines (sending in reprints for original anthologies or magazines, sending stories way over or under the word limit, sending inappropriate material for that project, etc).
That being said, a lot of very good stories get rejected, and when you do receive a rejection don’t get discouraged and immediately assume your story is bad. Rejection can be very disheartening, especially early on in a writer’s career, and it’s important to maintain perspective. Sometimes a story just isn’t the right fit for the project, or for that particular editor’s aesthetic. Keep submitting. It’s also important to maintain a certain balance between being open to criticism and sticking to your vision. You’ll definitely come across editors who, for whatever reason, won’t take your story. That’s fine. But when a story is rejected dozens upon dozens of times, it may be worth revisiting your story. Not necessarily trunking it, or rewriting the entire thing, but just taking another look at the story. Especially if you haven’t reread it in a while after submitting it, give it another read. Maybe a scene you thought was great doesn’t actually work. This may be particularly valuable if you’re receiving the same criticism from multiple sources.
Another important piece of advice: read. Read widely and as much as you can. If you want to improve your writing read everything you can get your hands on. What some people call good fiction, what others call bad fiction. Reading the work of your contemporaries in the field is valuable, but reading outside your comfort zone also helps you gain access to new perspectives, new techniques. Read and find out what works for you, what doesn’t, and why. If you like a particular author, dissect their work and figure out what it is about it you enjoy. If there’s a particular magazine in which you’d like to have your work appear, read the magazine. Don’t look at magazines simply as achievements. Do your research and find out what they publish, and whether or not you’re a good fit for them and vice-versa.
In the same way, think about where you submit where your stories. If you want people to take your work seriously, you also need to take it seriously. Sometimes that means not submitting to certain places. Sure, a specific market could publish your story, but should they? After the rush that comes from an acceptance, will you be happy to have your story published there? If so, great. If you think you might regret it – either because you never like the stories they publish, or you don’t find them professional, or for whatever other reason – then you probably shouldn’t publish with them. There are a lot of markets out there, and not all of them are good for you or your work.
AA: You’re also a writer. What do you do to keep a balance between writing, editing, and the rest of your life? Any new projects coming up?
DP: With difficulty, honestly. Working with books is my job as well as my hobby/passion. I tend to ramble on about book and projects a good deal. As far as new projects, I have an anthology of original cross-genre fairy tales which I co-edited with Navah Wolfe called The Starlit Wood coming out in October 2016 from Saga Press. The book features an all-star list of contributors, including Naomi Novik, Garth Nix, Seanan McGuire, Aliette de Bodard, Catherynne M. Valente, and many others. Navah and I are already hard at work on another anthology, due for a 2017 release. In terms of my own writing, I have a story about settler-period Peterborough involving a green man forthcoming in a Canadian anthology, but I can’t share the details yet.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and editors to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
DP: Frequently, yes. It’s one of the pleasure of working in this industry: a lot of writers and editors enjoy talking about new projects, the state of the industry, and books and the like. Fortunately for me, many of my close friends are also writers and editors, so we have a great deal to discuss on a regular basis. There tends to be a lot of collaboration and mutual support.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
DP: On the editing side, I started out as an editorial assistant to Ann VanderMeer for Weird Tales, the world’s oldest fantasy/horror magazine. I’d say that my vision of the field has increased drastically over the years working with her, and Ann and her husband Jeff’s championing of international fiction and favoring of cross-pollination has had a direct impact on how I edit.
As for my own writing, I enjoy reading non-traditional narrative structures and in the last few years I’ve started experimenting with writing them. It’s resulted in what I consider to be my best stories. Years ago I first read Leena Krohn’s gorgeous book Tainaron: Mail From Another City, and it was a revelation to me. The book consists of vignettes, prose-poetry, and very little plot, and it is the most beautiful thing I’ve ever read. Back then I was mostly writing and publishing poetry, but my love of that book helped me take some of what I was doing with poetry and apply it to fiction.
We’ll break here in talking with Dominik.
Join us next time when he talks about the writing process.
You can support Dominik and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.